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'Most fantastic place ever'

The clacking of discs striking discs, the song of laughter and an eclectic mix of popular music are all part of the action on Friday nights as the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club comes to life.

"Imagine 100-plus people playing shuffleboard simultaneously," said club president Christine Page, 39. "It's a blast."

Seniors in their 80s to the youths of the 21st century generation gather for the entertainment and camaraderie that is part and parcel of a game that's woven into the fabric of the city.

Formed in 1924, the club once boasted nearly 5,000 members and 110 courts, earning it the title of world's largest shuffleboard club. Although the popularity of the sport has waned a great deal since then, the club keeps its 86-year-old tradition alive with a weekly event known as the St. Pete Shuffle.

"Everyone in St. Petersburg should play shuffleboard at the club at least once," Page said. "We're helping to keep this part of Old Florida alive."

Those looking to brush up on their shuffleboard skills or try the game for the first time can join in the fun every Friday from 7 to 11 p.m., weather permitting. The free outdoor diversion includes use of equipment, access to volunteers who can guide newcomers on the basics, and entertainment provided by members who create play lists on their iPods.

The club is in the newly renovated historic Mirror Lake Complex at 559 Mirror Lake Drive. Built in the 1920s and featured in the movie Cocoon, the complex houses 32 lighted courts (65 total) and an amazing old grandstand — a reminder of how popular a spectator sport it was in its heyday.

For the uninitiated, the object of the game is to be the first team to score 75 points by "shuffling" discs down a long, narrow court to a marked scoring area using a cue. It is typically played by two to four people, is easy to learn, fast paced, and can be intensely satisfying as players strategize how to out-shuffle the competition.

Tami Shadduck, 30, became a fan in 2005 when she was ready to rejoin the social scene after returning from a Peace Corps assignment. After one game, she not only learned her way around the courts, she got courted.

"The first time I went to Shuffle I knew that some of my fellow Eckerd College alumni would be there," she said. "Even though we weren't friends at Eckerd, I recognized Josh Wallace right away. We were pitted against each other in a tournament and we laughed until there was a winner."

From that day forward, she and Wallace dated until they married in 2008. Their wedding rehearsal dinner was held at the St. Pete Shuffle so friends and family could share in the activity that brought them together.

For Laura Duvekot, 26, playing shuffleboard was a new experience until last summer. Now, Duvekot and her miniature American Eskimo dog, Theodore, spend their Friday evenings at the St. Pete Shuffle.

"It's the most fantastic place ever," she said. There aren't many places where families with children, retirees and college kids can be found enjoying themselves side by side except at St. Pete Shuffle. There's a fantastic sense of community. I think it's important to take advantage of such a gem."

For more information, call (727) 822-2083.

4 Today

Easter egg hunt and basket contest: Hundreds of eggs containing candy and prizes will be hidden throughout the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and directly on the beach, plus a "Cutest Easter Egg Basket Contest" with categories of ages 1-6 and 7-12. Baskets required for egg hunt. 2 p.m. 18328 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores. Free. Call (727) 391-6211 or visit seabirdsanctuary.com.

Sunday Florida Folk Concert Series: Designed to bring together folk fans and folk heritage musicians. Scheduled today: Grant Peeples, Maggie Council and Parson Brown. 1 to 5 p.m. St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. NE. Free. Call (727) 894-1052.

5 Monday

Walking club: Ongoing club led by Dr. Karen Reese. Will start out slowly and build from there. 5:30 p.m. Coffee Pot Park, 3001 First St. N, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 821-7400.

'An Evening With the Playwrights': Discussion with [email protected] co-founder and artistic director Bob Devin Jones, American Stage artistic director Todd Olson, playwright and performer Aleshea Harris and playwright Heather Jones, moderated by John Conlon, USF St. Pete adjunct professor and board president of St. Petersburg Little Theatre. This promises to be a fun, behind-the-scenes look at how a play evolves. 6:30 p.m. Snell-Williams Courtyard at USF St. Petersburg, Second Street and Fifth Avenue S. 6:30 p.m. Free. Call (727) 873-4954.

6 Tuesday

'Fun With Flowers': Horticulture class of Garden Club of St. Petersburg teaches how to create a balanced arrangement and gives tips for competing in flower shows; take home a completed arrangement. Bring scissors. 7 p.m. Garden Club of St. Petersburg Garden Center, 500 Sunset Drive S. $15, includes materials. RSVP required. Call (727) 423-7644.

Kristof to speak: Nicholas Kristof, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist, discusses his latest book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. 7 p.m. Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 821-9494.

7 Wednesday

Second Annual Fourth Street Dreams and Taste of Fourth Street: Benefits the Children's Dream Fund. 6 to 10 p.m. 2720 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. Park at BB&T Bank, 2646 Fourth St. N. $7 for tastes. Call (727) 424-0236 or visit tanyasharkey.com.

8 Thursday

Paint the Town 2010: Annual plein-air event attracts artists from across the country painting scenes in St. Petersburg. This year's event is organized as a collaboration of the Morean Arts Center and St. Petersburg Representational Art Association. $8, $6 seniors, $5 students. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (727) 822-7872 or visit moreanartscenter.org.

For senior consumers: Free seminar presented by the Senior Learning Council covers how Medicaid, VA and other methods can help pay for long-term care, and the basics of reverse mortgages. Light snacks provided. Reservations required. 10:30 a.m. Mirror Lake Library, 280 Fifth St. N, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 409-2292 or visit seniorlearningcouncil.org.

9 Friday

Tampa Bay Blues Festival: The annual event staged on St. Petersburg's waterfront features Reba Russell (12:30-2 p.m.), Sonny Landreth (2:30-4 p.m.), Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials (4:30-6 p.m.), Bettye Lavette (6:30-8 p.m.) and Jimmie Vaughan (8:30-10 p.m.). More performances and show times April 10 and 11. No coolers, pets or recording devices. 12:30 to 10 p.m. today. Vinoy Park, Fifth Avenue NE and North Shore Drive. $30 per day, $75 for three days, free for 12 and younger. Call (727) 502-5000 or visit tampabaybluesfest.com.

10 Saturday

Downtown Art Walk: Tour galleries along Central Avenue from 30th Street to the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Free. Call (727) 323-2787 or visit stpetearts.org.

Shred-A-Thon: Professional organizers will help you shred all the paper items you've been meaning to purge. 9 a.m. to noon. Rutland Northeast Storage (back parking lot), 898 30th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $5 donation per box to benefit the Children's Cancer Center. Call (813) 367-5437, ext. 3.

Tea and All Dressed Up: Program complements the exhibit "Cut! Costume and the Cinema" with a portrayal of a fictitious assistant to a designer and costumer, portrayed by Nan Colton. Tea and desserts provided. 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Florida International Museum at St. Petersburg College, 244 Second Ave. N. $15 includes admission to exhibit. Reservations required. Call (727) 341-7918 or visit spcollege.edu/fimuseum.

Diamonds in the Rough: Cocktail event will benefit the Haven of RCS (Religious Community Services) of Clearwater. Honorary chairs are artist Christopher Still and his wife, Kelly; food is from Tuscano Grille and the Melting Pot. 7 to 11 p.m. at the Kapok Special Events Center, 923 McMullen-Booth Road. $55 single; $100 per couple. Call (727) 512-4801.

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'Most fantastic place ever' 04/06/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:47pm]
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